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In NYC and LA, returning pupils face battery of virus tests

The two largest school districts in the U.S. are rolling out ambitious and costly plans to test students and staff for the coronavirus, bidding to help keep school buildings open amid a rise in infections among the nation’s school-age children.

New York City is set to begin testing 10% to 20% of students and staff in every building monthly beginning Thursday, the same day the final wave of the district’s more than 1 million students returns to brick-and-mortar classrooms for the first time in six months.

“Every single school will have testing. It will be done every single month. It will be rigorous,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in announcing the plan as part of an agreement with the teachers union to avert a strike. At least 79 Department of Education employees have died from the virus.

With an estimated 100,000-120,000 tests expected each month, each costing between $78 and $90, New York City’s school-based testing plan goes well beyond safety protocols seen in most other districts.


Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Unified School District, has launched a similarly comprehensive, $150 million, testing program to help determine when it will be safe to resume in-person instruction. The district began the school year remotely in August for all 600,000 students. The New York and Los Angeles systems are respectively the nation’s largest and 2nd-largest school districts.

Leaders in both cities say regular testing is needed in districts of their size and in areas of the country that previously witnessed unnerving surges of the virus.

The coronavirus struck hard at the elderly early in the pandemic and is now increasingly infecting American children and teens in a trend authorities say appears to be fueled by school reopenings and other activities. Children of all ages now make up 10% of all U.S cases, up from 2% in April, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that the incidence of COVID-19 in school-age children began rising in early September as many returned to classrooms. Its recommendations emphasize distancing, cleaning and face coverings for most reopening plans — though no requirement for universal testing of students and staff.

As part of the LAUSD plan announced this month, all students and staff will get an initial baseline test in coming weeks to ensure the incidence of COVID-19 is low, and then another test immediately before returning to school, Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday.

Periodic testing will continue throughout the school year under a collaboration chaired by Beutner and former U.S. Education Arne Duncan that also includes the University of California, Los Angeles, Johns Hopkins and Stanford universities, Microsoft and several health providers.

“Pulling off something like this is almost a miraculous undertaking in and of itself because there are so many things that could go wrong,” said Arlene Inouye, secretary of United Teachers Los Angeles, which negotiated conditions for school nurses tasked with testing, “but what’s really encouraging is that there are a lot

Overnight Health Care: NYC reports uptick in COVID-19 cases as schools try to reopen | Global coronavirus death toll passes 1 million

Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care, where we are awaiting the health care questions at the first presidential debate tonight.



Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Overnight Health Care: NYC reports uptick in COVID-19 cases as schools try to reopen | Global coronavirus death toll passes 1 million | Pelosi cites 'positive' talk with White House on coronavirus aid


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Overnight Health Care: NYC reports uptick in COVID-19 cases as schools try to reopen | Global coronavirus death toll passes 1 million | Pelosi cites ‘positive’ talk with White House on coronavirus aid

Moderator Chris Wallace will ask about COVID-19 and the Supreme Court, so we expect questions about President Trump’s response to the pandemic and the looming oral arguments for a Trump-backed lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Also, New York City is reporting an uptick in cases, and the global COVID-19 death toll has passed 1 million.

Let’s start with NYC…

New York City reports uptick in COVID-19 cases as schools try to reopen

New York City reported that its daily positivity rate of coronavirus tests surpassed 3 percent on Tuesday for the first time since June, with the bulk of the increase coming from certain Queens and southern Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) called the 3.25 percent positivity rate “cause for real concern” in a Tuesday press briefing. The nine at-risk ZIP codes are predominantly Orthodox communities. De Blasio said the statewide rate is about 1 percent.

The city, an early U.S. epicenter for the pandemic, saw its numbers steadily fall over the summer but has seen an increase in recent weeks.

The uptick is disrupting the city’s attempts to reopen schools, which de Blasio has already delayed. The mayor said that if the city’s seven-day rolling average reaches 3 percent, public schools will have to close again.

Read more here.

Global coronavirus death toll passes 1 million, with no end in sight

More than a million people worldwide have died after contracting the novel coronavirus less than a year after it first spilled over to humankind, a devastating toll that includes deaths in both the wealthiest and some of the poorest countries.

At least 33 million people have tested positive for the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the true number of infected is likely multiple times higher. Surveys in the United States and other nations have suggested that only about 1 in 10 people who contract the virus ever test positive.

According to a Johns Hopkins University count, the global COVID-19 death toll stood at 1,000,555 by Monday evening.

And the true number of deaths is likely substantially higher as well. Excess mortality rates across the world show more people have died this year than is typical – signs either that the virus is killing more people than currently known, or that people with other health issues are unable or unwilling to access the treatment they need.

Read more here.

Student gatherings, congregate living contribute to rapid coronavirus spread at universities: CDC

Student gatherings and congregate living settings likely contribute to the rapid spread of COVID-19 at universities, according to an analysis published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Universities that resume in-person

The Latest: NYC to fine people without masks in some areas


NEW YORK — Alarmed by a spike in coronavirus infections in a few Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, New York City officials will start issuing fines in those areas to people who refuse to wear masks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

De Blasio said he was sending teams of hundreds of outreach workers and contact tracers to nine Brooklyn and Queens ZIP codes that have seen an upswing in positive COVID-19 tests in hopes of avoiding harsher enforcement measures.


Those workers will be handing out masks but also insisting that people put them on if they are in a place where they could be within 6 feet of other people.

The Democratic mayor warned he could order further crackdowns, including the closing of nonessential businesses and bans on gatherings if things don’t improve. Private schools and child care centers could be closed if people refuse to comply with coronavirus guidelines, de Blasio said.



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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

— llinois Gov. Pritzker to quarantine 2 weeks after contact with staffer who tested positive

— India vice president tests positive for virus, isolating at home


— How can I volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine study?

— The coronavirus is infecting a rising number of American children and teens in a trend authorities say appears driven by school re-openings, resumption of sports and play dates.

— University of Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins apologized for not wearing a mask after pictures surfaced online of him shaking hands and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with people at a recent Rose Garden ceremony.


— Tennessee Titans players, staff test positive for coronavirus; first outbreak in the NFL at Week 4.

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